It will soon be 15 years since my daughter Gabriella died riding a bicycle in Grand Teton National Park.
Gabri died on July 24, 1999, because there was no pathway for cyclists and pedestrians. She died because
she had to share the road with motor vehicles.
I remember that day too well. It was sunny and warm; the skies were clear. We were part of a bicycle tour
with Backroads, riding near Jenny Lake, and Gabri, an experienced cyclist, had gone ahead with other
members of the group. She did everything right, riding single file to the right of the fog line, wearing a
bright orange safety triangle on her back and a helmet on her head. But she had no chance when an
inattentive driver’s van came from behind and slammed into her.
When I arrived the paramedics were already at work. I watched as they lost her and pronounced her dead. Since that time my wife Liza and I have worked to make Grand Teton safe for cyclists and pedestrians. For us there is only one way to achieve that goal, and that is to build the entire pathway system promised by the 2007 Grand Teton Transportation FEIS. The pathway connecting Moose to Wilson is an essential part of that system.
Building the Moose-Wilson pathway will enable park visitors — hikers, bikers, families with children
and the disabled — to get out of their cars and enjoy the beauty of the park separated from one of the
most heavily travelled motor vehicle routes in Grand Teton. This vital transportation alternative will not
only achieve the level of safety that cyclists and pedestrians deserve. It will also enhance visitors’
experiences and appreciation of the park, and surely reduce motor vehicle impact on the park
Grand Teton is ideally suited to construction of a comprehensive pathway system that will be a model for
the nation. But the pathway system will not be complete, and people who leave their cars will not be safe,
until cyclists and pedestrians have a pathway along the entire road from Moose to Wilson. Whatever
plans the park may have for the 10,300-acre area identified in the recent Moose-Wilson Corridor
Comprehensive Management Plan/scoping newsletter, a complete Moose-Wilson pathway must be part
of that plan. As I am reminded every single day, it is simply a matter of life and death.
No one who chooses to bike or hike should have to fear losing his or her child on the roads of the park.
The pathway system promised by the 2007 FEIS must be completed, and a complete Moose-Wilson
pathway must be part of that system. We won’t rest until we ride that pathway with all of the wonderful
people who have supported us since that day in July of 1999 and who have given their support to the
building of pathways in the park.
Studio City, Calif.